Tag Archives: Apple

Review: Low-cost, high value 10-inch tablet from Acer

2015-12-08

Many ebook lovers like to read on a 7-inch tablet because the device is compact and light. That is true, but the compact size is not a perfect solution for many other applications. We have always liked the reading experience on a 9.7-inch Apple iPad. Additional reason for using the iPad is that it can be used as a productivity tool as well. Would it be possible to replace the iPad with a low-cost 10-inch tablet that could be used for reading books, following news, watching TV series, for email and for writing? We tested the Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet.
acer b3-a20 tablet, watching youtube video
The Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet has a 10.1 inch display. The screen resolution is 1280 x 800 pixels. The resolution is at the low end in the 10 inch tablet category, but the display is really readable and sharp. We didn’t detect any jaggedness or blurriness with books, videos, photos or news sites. Our benchmark tablet was a retina-display Apple iPad.
acer b3-a20 tablet, ebook reader
The form factor of the Acer B3-A20 tablet resembles a wide-screen tv, as opposed to the iPad’s ordinary 4:3 screen ratio. There are a couple of benefits in the Acer’s wide-screen solution:
1) In landscape mode, all web pages display properly. There is enough width on the screen for the whole page. Some ebook reading apps can display two pages at a time when in landscape mode.
2) In portrait mode, some applications like Twitter work better than in landscape. This is also true for some apps that originally were designed for smartphones, but run nicely on the tablet in portrait mode as well.

We have been using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad, and the same hardware keyboard worked with the Acer tablet right away. Bluetooth has to be switched on in Android settings and hardware keyboard with the correct language must be specified and that is it.

The Acer B3-A20 comes with 1GB of RAM memory which is enough, for instance, for running two web browsers, Twitter and a notepad application. The system resources monitoring application has a low threshold for warning of low memory. If you know what you are doing, you may ignore the warnings or you can install an app that helps you closely monitor and clean unnecessary apps. Android Assistant is one such application that lets you clean memory from applications that reserve RAM memory and also clean data and cache files from storage (flash memory).

GPS and memory card slot are normal features on Android tablets and smartphones, but not on all Apple devices. GPS lets you navigate using Google Maps or any other map application you may download from the Play Store. If you take the tablet along on the road, you can also use GPS for recording your travel route.

acer b3-a20 tablet, microsd memory card slot

Acer B3-A20 tablet, microSD memory card slot.


Memory card slot on a tablet is a truly valuable feature. It can be used as storage space for data and for installing applications that take a lot of space. Not all applications can be installed on a memory card, but large apps, like web browsers (e.g. Opera, Firefox) can run from a memory card. Another nice thing is that you can take a memory card from your camera or phone and insert the card into the tablet and view photos on a large screen.

Few people buy a tablet because of its camera. The five megapixel camera on the Acer B3-A20 captures ordinary images, but we don’t believe anyone will be using it as their primary camera.

The performance of the B3-A20 tablet was fine. Videos, photo galleries, large PDF documents, cloud services (like Dropbox), ebooks, maps, writing all work smoothly. We didn’t experience any hick-ups.

The tablet runs on the latest version of Android (5.1) which is important for application compatibility that you may download in the coming months and years. As such, Android 5.1 doesn’t provide new exciting features if it is compared to Android 4. A dedicated soft key for multitasking and greatly improved alerts at the top bar are the most visible and useful improvements.
acer b3-a20 tablet with Bluetooth keyboard

Conclusion

The Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet fulfilled all our requirements for reading books, for news, for entertainment and for productivity, even for writing.

The tablet feels nice when you hold it (because of the surface on the backside), but it also feels like you want to hold it very carefully so that it doesn’t break. It is not a solid piece of engineering like high-priced tablets that may have metal cases. Another negative feature is the small amount of RAM memory. The built-in system health monitor app regularly warns of low memory.

Nonetheless, the tablet does what it is supposed to do, comes with a decent display, has a good battery life, and has valuable features that, for instance, the Apple iPad doesn’t have (memory card and GPS).

At the moment, when the Acer B3-A20 is priced at 150 dollars/euros, it provides very good value for the money.

Acer Iconia Tab 10 B3-A20 key features and technical specifications

– Screen size 10.1 inches
– Screen type active matrix TFT Color LCD, LED backlight, multi-touch
– Screen resolution 1280 x 800 pixels
– Android 5.1 operating system
– Back camera 5 megapixels, full HD (1080) video capture
– Front camera 2 megapixels, 720 video recording
– GPS
– Processor MediaTek Cortex A53 MT8163, 1.30 GHz, Quad-core
– RAM memory 1 GB
– Built-in flash memory 16 GB
– microSD memory card slot
– Wireless LAN Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
– USB-port, micro-USB 2.0 type B
– Bluetooth 4.0
– Microphone
– Stereo loudspeakers
– Headphone jack
– Battery Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), capacity 6100 mAh
– Maximum video watching 10 hours per charge
– Dimensions: thickness 0.4″ (9.5 mm) x height 6.6″ (168mm) x width 10.2″ (259mm)
– Weight 1.21 lb / 550 gr.

acer b3-a20 comparison with Apple ipad

Acer B3-A20 on the left, Apple iPad on the right.

Hands-on Test: Can the Apple Watch Help Travelers on the Road?

2015-05-15

The Apple Watch may look like any other modern, somewhat bulky electronic wristwatch, but it is much more than that. The smartwatch from Apple is a tiny computer that is connected to its owner’s iPhone via wireless Bluetooth connection. The exciting thing with the Apple Watch is that you can download apps on the watch in order to tailor its functionality to suit, for instance, for traveling.

apple watch, map

Stephanie Rosenbloom, a reporter for The New York Times, tested the Apple Watch in New York. She took the role of a tourist who doesn’t know her way in the city, and used the device in situations that an average tourist typically encounters in foreign places.

The Apple Watch can be controlled by tapping the screen and turning the knob on the side, by speech or by applications running on the iPhone.

apple watch , Siri ask directions

Positive experiences when traveling with the Apple Watch:

  • Notifications are displayed on the Watch when hands are full of bags and luggage, and there are not enough hands or time to pick up the phone from a pocket or bag). Notifications include emails and calendar alerts.
  • Hands-free dictation of text messages and answering phone calls.
  • Ask (without typing) for directions to a destination, and the watch displays a map with directions.
  • Most travel apps worked fine on the smartwatch.
  • Paying small purchases via Apple Pay. [editor’s note: the payment system has very limited availability, especially, outside the U.S.].
  • Easy set up: apps downloaded on the iPhone and from there on the Watch.
  •  
    Negative experiences:

  • Some travel apps failed miserably on the Apple Watch. [editor’s note: the new device is so different to any other Apple products that apps have to be completely redesigned and re-thought for the watch.]
  • Apple Maps or Siri speech recognition couldn’t find all requested places. [ed. note this is true for the Apple Maps iOS app as well.]
  • The GPS location given by the watch wasn’t always accurate enough for navigation on city streets. [ed. note: there can be many reasons for this – in city environment, high-rise buildings or anything that obstruct signals from GPS satellites can cause interference]
  •  
    Keeping in mind that this is the first version of the Apple Watch, the start is very promising. Once the teething problems have been solved and clever software developers have invented new apps for the smartwatch, we will have a useful new gadget in our wrists.

    Would You Read an Ebook on Your Smartwatch?

    2015-04-26

    Applications that let us read ebooks on ereaders, tablets, smartphones and laptop computers have been available for years. Especially young book lovers find it pretty natural to read on a five-inch smartphone screen, while older generations grab a tablet or an ereader when they want to read. Those readers who still don’t believe it is possible to read a book on a smartphone, will have to take a stand on a new product: smartwatch.

    The new possibilities of the Apple Watch has tickled the brain cells of software developers, also within enterprises that market ebook reading applications. One of them is Glose, a company that has developed a reading app for tablets, smartphones and PCs. Now, Glose has released their ebook reading app for the Apple Watch as well.

    glose apple watch ebook reading app

    The Apple Watch screen is only about 1.5 inches in size. It is clear that only a few words fit into the screen, making conventional reading troublesome. That is why Glose has a feature called speed reading in its Apple Watch app. The feature automatically scrolls the text one word at a time to the screen. The reader determines the scroll speed.

    Glose ebook reading app for the Apple Watch is available on the App Store.
    Via Ink, Bits and Pixels.

    glose ereader app

    Research: Tablets Have a Positive Impact on Studies

    2015-02-12

    A few years ago, the University of Illinois conducted an experiment that was doomed to fail. University students received Apple iPad tablets with instructions to use them for their studies. The students didn’t get any other instructions, tools, or support. Yet, the experiment was a success.
    Apple ipad tablet benefits studying
    The experiment was conducted in 2011, but reported in late 2014. Every student of the Master of Science program received an iPad from the school. Students were only told that they were supposed to use the tablets to study more effectively. No restrictions or locks were installed in tablets by the university. The university didn’t have any educational IT system integrated with tablets, but intranet was available just like for PCs.

    The survey participants were 22—43 old students of the same Master of Science program.

    Illinois University, tablet study

    The key conclusions in the report are as follows.
    1. Students increased their communication with the lecturers and fellow students. The use of email, searching information from the intranet and downloading study material increased as well.

    2. Tablets replaced pen and paper as the primary note taking method for majority of students. Assignments that required writing were still carried out on a laptop computer.

    3. The students regarded tablets complementary to PCs.

    When the experiment ended, 80% of the students said they have no problems with on-screen reading, and they rarely print material.

    Apple Has Patented a Peer-to-Peer Media Content Distribution Method

    2015-01-25

    Pirate sites that let visitors download ebooks, MP3 music, movies and TV shows typically apply a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) technology like BitTorrent for content downloads, because P2P balances the required resources among downloaders. Even though P2P has managed to establish a bad name (probably because of misunderstanding) for a universal technology, Apple has patented a P2P system for distributing commercial digital content products to customers.

    The principle of the patent “US 8,934,624 B2  Decoupling rights in a digital unit from download” is simple: the actual content and a license required to open the content are two separate entities that can be downloaded, copied, moved, and purchased independent from one  another.

    apple p2p patent

    For example, I purchase an ebook from the Apple iBooks store. I download both the content file and a license from the store. Then, I can share the content to anyone, for instance, via a P2P network. If someone wants to open the content file I shared, she can get a license from the store I originally purchased the ebook.

    The content is encrypted until a key obtained in the license decrypts the content. Apple ponders in the patent application that the system could lead to flexible pricing of content products. Because the online store doesn’t have to manage all content downloads, it could have different prices for license-only buyers (probably lower price) and for content-and-license buyers (probably higher price).

    Lower prices for digital products are always welcomed by customers, but other than that, Apple’s patent doesn’t mean dramatic changes to content buyers’ lives.  Today, digital products downloaded from the iTunes or iBooks store are packages that include both the content and the license. If you want to share it, you can transfer the file to someone else, but there is no (legal) way to open it. The only option for someone else to open the shared digital content is to visit the Apple store and download the whole package from there.

    TorrentFreak reported.

    U.S. Airport Restaurants Are Making Apple iPad Tablets Available for Travelers

    2015-01-21

    Many travelers are carrying tablets and smartphones along to flights they are taking. It means that they have their gadgets with them when they pass through an airport. Yet, a company (OTG) that designs and operates airport restaurants has installed thousands of iPad tablets in eating and waiting areas at airports. What’s the point?
    ipad airport restaurant by otg
    Obviously, airport restaurants want to attract more customers who come in, sit at a table that has an iPad isntalled, and order some food and drinks. That’s not all. Travelers can order their meals using an app on the iPad without having to wait for a waiter. Even more critical timesaving moment is when the plates are empty and it would be time to hurry to the gate. The payment process can be managed on the iPad as well.

    Meals can be paid using frequent flier miles. Flight schedules are also available on the iPads.

    Early 2015, OTG had installed iPads at gate areas and in restaurants at two airports in New York (Kennedy International and La Guardia), at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark’s Terminal C. Who is the first in Asia or Europe to make iPads available at an airport?

    The New York Times tells about a frequent traveler who doesn’t even bother to pick up her own iPad from the bag when she enters the airport. She finds the tablets provided by the airport so convenient.

    Anything that helps kill time at airports is welcome for all travelers. Years ago, Changi Airport in Singapore had a game lounge, a TV lounge, and a couple of other places to spend time in. How about downloading a few ebooks on a tablet or smartphone and reading a good book while waiting?
    airport lounge waiting for flight